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Agfest: Sowing the seeds of cyber security

Agribusinesses face cyber security threats every day. Yet many don’t believe their businesses could be targets. Often at the forefront of business technology, Australian farming businesses have a lot they need to protect.

2 May 2024: In Australia, the agriculture sector is regularly targeted by cyber criminals. The latest data showed one in five agricultural businesses experienced at least one cyber incident in a year. Farm technology that could be impacted includes automated machinery, drones and sensors on the farm, cameras scanning conveyor belts and batch tracking in production, and digital finance management systems that agribusinesses rely on.

Farmers and producers across livestock, cropping and horticulture have always faced diverse risks and challenges they need to overcome. These range from weather events and seasonal factors, pests and biosecurity, to supply chains and staffing. And while the increasing use of internet-based technology has many benefits for agribusinesses, cyber security is a growing risk that needs to be managed. 

The Cyber Wardens program is a national initiative designed to help small businesses mitigate their cyber risk. To complement the free online training, which only takes 45 minutes, a range of resources are also being produced.

To coincide with the iconic Agfest in the Paddock event, where hundreds of agricultural businesses showcase their products in northern Tasmania, the Cyber Wardens team has developed a small business Cyber Security Guide for Agriculture

This guide for agribusinesses is a quick reference tool that tells farmers and their workers what to look out for, and how to combat the increasing threats.

The guide includes:

  • Examples of cyber attacks in agriculture
  • Top 8 tips to stop hackers at the gate
  • A cyber security checklist, and more.

The Cyber Wardens program will also have a stall at Agfest in the Paddock to help raise awareness about the program among the farming community.

Tunnel Hill Mushrooms director Dean Smith will be one of the growers attending Agfest to support his successful business growing gourmet mushrooms in a historic railway tunnel at Mount Rumney, outside Hobart.

Before completing the Cyber Wardens course, Smith said he assumed it was only big businesses that needed to be concerned about cyber security.

“I guess I was a bit naive about the whole thing because I’m not that tech savvy and I don’t have a lot of time to keep an eye on it,” Smith said.

After completing the Cyber Wardens course, Smith said he would now take regular steps to improve his cyber security.

“I think a lot of people would be like me: either they’re not too confident, don’t have the time, or find it a bit daunting,” he said.

“But, it’s not that hard and it doesn’t take a lot of time to put a few things in play that will protect your business.’’

COSBOA CEO Luke Achterstraat encouraged all small agribusinesses across Australia to take cyber security seriously.

“Regional and rural small businesses are the backbones of many communities in Australia. Cyber risk is pervasive and doesn’t discriminate based on a business’s postcode,” he said.

“Small businesses must remain aware of the increasingly acute risk of cyber attacks. COSBOA’s Cyber Wardens program can help give small business owners the skills to mitigate the risks.

“Investing in cyber security training and tools is essential to help protect your small business, staff and clients. With Cyber Wardens we’ve made that training free and easy for small businesses.”

Attendees at Agfest who complete the Cyber Wardens training by Sunday, May 19, will also be entered into the draw to win a new drone or gift cards to support their agribusinesses.

For more information, please visit

Photos of our case study Dean Smith from Tunnel Hill Mushrooms and a video news release can be found here.
To arrange interviews please call  0466 027 957  or email

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